Spotlight: 10 misconceptions about mental illness

Although several pieces of research have thrown light on a better understanding of mental health, many people continue to look down on the sufferings of the people who live through mental disorders. This at times results in undiagnosed sufferings and lifelong struggles.

The consequences of the mental disorders can also have its impact on the family members.

The number of such cases is increasing due to many reasons, but what is important is to have the knowledge and awareness to realise there are solutions. Nervous disorders can even influence thoughts and moods.

Dr Munira al Rabkhy from the Department of General Psychiatry at Al Masarah Hospital has listed out the ten misconceptions about mental illness:

1 That mental disorder is not a disease.
In reality, mental illness or disorders are diseases just like any other such as diabetes, blood pressure etc, the reason being the chemical imbalance. Most people suffer from brief sadness but if it is prolonged, then it can affect a person’s efficiency and his/her ability to control situations. It can lead to depression or a disorder where treatment might be required.
Sometimes a person is going through a physical illness and it can also cause mental strain.

2 People think that going through a mental disorder is being insane. A common opinion is that if a person is going through a mental disorder they are losing control of themselves. Mental illness is also due to nervous system disorders. Diagnosis might take time and this cause can affect the mental ability of the individual, as well as emotions, feelings and behaviour.

3 Thinking there is no solution and there is no end to the problem.
Some people conclude wrongly that there is no medical solution. However, the fact is the patients can overcome these diseases, recover and lead a normal life if they are treated with the right medication and practices. There are chronic diseases just like others such as hypertension or diabetes. Some of the problems might have a recurrence and need treatment.

4The notion that medication cannot treat mental illness.
Quite a few people believe that taking medications for psychotherapy can lead to drug addictions.
Sometimes when the doctor prescribes medicines it will lead to addiction or misuse, but the reality is that the medications are prescribed under the supervision of the concerned specialists. They require the medication depending on the health status.

5The idea that the use of electric shock is a torture.
The psychiatrist explains that this is far from the truth. Some media has created this image and some of the patients who need it refuse to take it because of the image that has been built. Electroconvulsive therapy is a procedure used to treat certain psychiatric conditions. The treatment is scientifically proven to be successful in handling the brain and is used to relieve severe depressive and psychotic symptoms. According to experts the modern-day ECT is safe, effective and not painful.

6 Some people believe that depression happens to people who do not have religious faith and who are weak.
Dr Munira states that there is no connection between faith and mental disorder illness. It has also not been mentioned in the holy book. On the other hand, mental disorders can be hereditary.

7 Compulsive Obsessive Disorder is a mental disorder that creates emotions, actions, repetitive feelings which can also be obsessive.
At times they know they are wrong and may want even to stop but he cannot resist as something could have upset them. It is also caused by a disorder.
People have the misconception that it is because one is not close to the religion. They think that as sometimes the disorder leads a person to commit meaningless actions such as the doubt about the door is locked or not.

8 Thinking that mental diseases are prevalent because of the wrong upbringing.
There is no doubt childhood experiences do have an impact when a person grows up but it does not have a direct impact. Many types of research are being conducted. Childhood can have an impact and can be a factor but not the main reason.

9 A wrong idea that people with weak personalities get depressed.
This is not true because we know there are also chemical imbalances that are involved. Depression is not temporary sadness or something that is caused by circumstances.
Depression can affect a person’s life, the ability to produce or participate in a normal routine, to contact and communicate with others. In adverse situations, if people cannot have the right treatment, they might commit suicide.
It is a dangerous disease and can even cause immobility.

10 The worst misconception — people who have mental disorders are violent and aggressive.
Studies do show that there can be some aggressive actions but other studies have shown that there is not much difference between the people who have disorders and others who do not have. An important factor is that people with mental disorders are vulnerable and can be attacked by others. People with split personalities have certain symptoms that make them feel insecure, which can prompt them to take defensive actions.